Friday, 28 November 2008

whre's my dinner?

November 27th

Final District Office English training session for this term – there’s too much travelling in the next few days to allow me to fit any more in. In some ways this is a pity because I’m starting to enjoy myself and I know the sessions are going really well.

It must be towards the end of the week because they’re quite late arriving today, and its quarter past seven before I’m really quorate. But the Vice Mayor’s not only here all the session but is joining in with the rest of them, so that’s quite an achievement. I think they’re all terrified of him; when he makes a mistake on a wordsearch they don’t quite know how to react!

Another good session – a listening exercise involving the description of an imaginary island and its potential for tourism. (Oh dear, we’re back to this lack of imagination in education again. You can see them thinking “why don’t I know where the state of Cameronia is in West Africa, and how did I not know there were gorillas on the mountains there?”). We do twenty questions which is also an entirely new experience for these people. Mind you, they’re quick learners and smart cookies; it just says reams for the narrowness of the secondary education system here that all the games we play in England to encourage lateral thinking and stimulate the imagination are lacking here in Rwanda. So I’m a man with a mission – I will take you, drag you, hijack you by any means possible to a state where you learn to think outside your comfort zone!

We end up doing a wordsearch which is another new experience for almost every single one; as soon as get the hang of it they’re away and jostling each other to come up to the flipchart and identify words. I never got this degree of enthusiasm from any of my classes at Beaminster!

We all leave the room laughing and we’ve actually enjoyed the best part of an hour’s hard work, so I must be doing something right.

Then it’s off to Mata school in Muhanga secteur. This is one of my favourite schools; it has two cows and a huge acreage of coffee trees. I took Hayley there with me in the middle of September on her second day at work in Rwanda. I’m even better organised today, and the whole training goes very, very well. I would have come back on a tremendous high except that Ernestine seems to have forgotten to arrange lunch for any of us, and nobody gets anything to eat at all. I have a couple of boiled sweets in my bag and a small bottle of water, so by the time I get back in the afternoon I’m starving. It’s most unlike Ernestine to screw up on anything, she’s an excellent organiser. I wonder if some other training session got our food, or if they got two lots of food? If two lots turned up they’d scoff the lot without the slightest second thought.

I get overcharged on the matata when I come home; at these trainings I have a lot of baggage and the host school usually insists on escorting me to the nearest bus point. That makes it difficult for me to hitch a ride on a passing car, which is always my intention. Never mind, instead of 30p I had to pay 60p and in any case it’s VSO who is paying.

I have to buy more scotch tape and marker pens when I get back to Gitarama – I think some of these people are eating marker pens – and flake out at the flat with cups of tea and peanut butter sandwiches to keep me going. I’ve decided to treat myself to a meal out tonight; I reckon I deserve an omelette spéciale, perhaps with a side plate of chips….

Panic stations at 4.30 – our electricity is about to run out and Tom has the card and meter box key locked in his bedroom. I’ve got a horrible feeling I’m going to be without power very soon until Monday morning… So let’s get phone and iPod all charged up and minimise cups of tea; I’m already showering in cold water for a few days so I don’t have to use the immersion heater.

Best thing about today – all of it – two good training sessions and I’m feeling on a high.

Worst thing about today – I’m beginning to feel very tired already, and I’m only half way through the secteur trainings. But at least I don’t have to spend the evenings preparing more stuff for the District Office crowd!

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